This article was posted December 16, 2012.
A lengthy Journey to Messiah’s Truth
Michael was born into a Jewish family in the Ukrainian city of Lviv. He poured his efforts into education, earning a Master’s Degree in Construction Engineering. In 1988, he met his wife, Natalie. Like Michael, Natalie sought truth in many places, and together they searched for answers through the arts, culture and literature—but found none.
Michael says, “As a Jew growing up in a Russian culture, I believed there was a God. I was even open to the idea of Jesus, but thought that perhaps Jesus was a prophet. I had read the Bible with an intellectual understanding, but had not yet been introduced to the true and living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Michael and Natalie never dreamed they would be able to leave the Soviet Union, but in 1989, the “Iron Curtain” fell. Disappointed with life in Ukraine, they thought an “escape” to Israel would give them the solution to fill the void in their lives. However, upon arrival in Israel, they found the same types of problems they left in Ukraine, with no apparent spiritual answers to the meaning of life.
One day, a pastor they met in their intensive Hebrew class explained the Gospel and helped them understand their need for Messiah’s forgiveness. In 1990, Michael and his wife committed their lives to Yeshua (Jesus). God gave Michael a passion to see other Russian immigrants come to know Messiah.
Michael joined Chosen People Ministries in 1994 and helped establish a congregation in the Tel Aviv area. He now serves as the director over the Mission’s work in Israel.
Finding the Pearl of Great Price
In 1976, Maxim was born into a typical Jewish family in Siberia, Russia. Due to complications at birth, he was unable to walk until he was nine. This made his childhood difficult, especially when it came to making friends with other children. As an adult, Maxim became enthralled with luxury and the attractions of the physical world, and making money increasingly became the focus of his life.
Despite the allure of wealth, Maxim discovered he could not continue in that lifestyle. He decided to make a new life in a new country, and he immigrated to Israel. Maxim went to Eilat, which is located on the southernmost tip of Israel and known for its upscale resorts and active night life. However, instead of beginning a new life, he quickly began socializing with the same type of friends.
While Maxim was seemingly isolated in a remote corner of Israel, change was nonetheless on the way. Although he was unaware of God’s existence, the same God who had led the children of Israel through the wilderness was already working in Maxim’s life through godly believers he met in Eilat. Through these believers, Maxim heard for the first time that there is a God who loves him.
Maxim prayed for God’s help, but life became more difficult. After a time, he even wound up living on the street. In the midst of this dark time, Maxim remembered his earlier prayer; he knew God alone could help him. Maxim committed his life to Yeshua. A group of wonderful believers gathered around him and helped him grow in his new-found faith.
Maxim now resides in Jerusalem and has served in Israel with Chosen People Ministries since 2002. He is always eager to share the Gospel with all who are willing to listen.
As is the case with so many Jewish people who have newly come to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah and Savior, I struggled inwardly with my identity in light of the decision I had made. Was I still a Jew? Were my relatives right in saying that I had relinquished my Jewishness in order to follow “that man”? One day, as I was flipping through a Bible dictionary, I was shocked to see the word “Passover” on one of the pages. I thought, “Why would Passover be of any interest to Christians?”
Then I proceeded to read a simple sentence that exploded with meaning in my heart and mind: “A Jewish memorial instituted in Exodus 12:3-14, prophetic of the redemption supplied by the shed blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.” Suddenly, my entire heritage as a Jew took on new richness and relevance! Far from “relinquishing my Jewishness,” I knew for the first time that in surrendering to Jesus, I had finally come home.
When I came to faith in 1987, I had mainly read the New Testament and not the Hebrew Bible—what Christians called the “Old Testament.” In my early time as a believer, a few people asked me about Isaiah 53, and I had no idea what they were talking about.
When I finally read Isaiah 53, I was shocked. I had no idea this chapter was in the Hebrew Bible. This one passage confirmed in my heart that Jesus was indeed the Jewish Messiah who is the Lamb of God.
I would say that two prophecies were very important in my decision to believe in Jesus and to follow Him as Lord. One is Deuteronomy 28:64, where we read about the scattering of the Jewish people all around the world as a result of rebellion against Him. I realized that it has come to pass, just as Lord has said; we Jewish people seem to be everywhere!
The other place would be in Isaiah 42:1-8, when we read about a special person, called by the Lord to be a covenant for the Jewish people and the light for the Gentiles! It became very clear to me that the covenant cannot be built around someone who is only a man; the Messiah must surely be God Himself.
Since then, bombs have dropped from Lebanon and now we face danger from Iran. We live in a time of war and rumors of war, as foretold by the prophets. How my heart, mind and spirit cry out for the day when the Messiah will reign on David’s throne in everlasting peace! The verses in Isaiah 9:6-7 comfort me and assure me that the Lord holds everything in His hands.